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2015 National Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Recap

Posted By AWIS, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On April 30, 2015, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), in partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU), hosted the 2015 National Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Washington, DC. The Summit brought together more than 100 senior-level experts for a national dialogue on the nexus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and gender. In 2010, small businesses in the United States accounted for 18 percent of industry research and development (totaling over $40 billion), and employed almost 400,000 scientists, engineers, and technicians. However, gender gaps in educational institutions and across industries mean that considerable talent is being left out of the innovation enterprise.

Many recent studies point out that women remain on the fringes of the tech and biotech booms of the past several years.  In fact, a recent AWIS study found that in 2014, there were 80 initial public offerings (IPOs), but only 6 of the companies had female CEOs.  We also know women file proportionately fewer invention disclosures and patents, launch fewer startup companies, and are less successful at attracting venture capital and angel funds. Simultaneously, we are seeing that companies with more women in senior leadership positions appear to have better economic practices and developments. In a survey last year of 366 companies, McKinsey & Co. found that companies whose leadership roles were most balanced between men and women were more likely to report financial returns above their national industry median. Click here to learn more.

In recognition of this practical dissonance, the Summit engaged policy experts, employers, funding agencies, and others involved in workforce development in research-driven and thought-provoking discussions over the course of three panels. These conversations aimed to develop expanded models of entrepreneurship and innovation that take into account the experiences, motivations, and diverse talents of women and men and drive even greater innovation, discovery, and economic development.

The panels began with setting the landscape of entrepreneurship and innovation in the US. The first panel was moderated by Ana Rold, the Editor in Chief of the Diplomatic Courier. She and her fellow presenters, including Christine Kymn of the Small Business Administration, Darlene Solomon of Agilent Technologies, and Bruce Weinberg of OSU, explored the research, policy and practical components of innovation ecosystems, and how to construct ideal innovation ecosystems elsewhere. Panel 1 examined several questions relating to the full scope of the origin of ideas, the state of research, and the barriers facing women seeking to establish themselves as entrepreneurs.

Over the course of the day, each panel narrowed their focus, zeroing in on the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship, and gender. Panel 2 was moderated by Derek Wallbank of Bloomberg and supported by Kristin D’Amore of The Entrepreneur Center, Joan Herbers of OSU, and Diane Palmintera of Innovation Associates. The panelists looked critically at fostering innovation in the workplace and beyond. They discussed the lack of women CEOs leading technology companies and how to construct entrepreneurial systems that specifically target and meaningfully engage innovative women and minorities. As people respond to different incentives in a multitude of ways, employers are better able to create inclusive STEM environments when they offer a variety of incentives and workplace practices that allow everyone’s innovative ideas to flourish.

Taking an idea from the bench to the marketplace is a long and expensive process, which can be overwhelming to early-stage inventors. The third and final panel featured experts in innovative funding models, including Nada Jain of Golden Seeds Fund, Amy Millman of Springboard Enterprises, and David Zipper of 1776 Ventures. Panel three examined new, inclusive ways to finance the entire arc of innovation.

AWIS will continue our project to see more women in STEM as CEOs of tech companies by focusing on inclusive systems for leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. We now offer the Summit panels, keynote, and other speeches to watch on-demand. Watch the Summit panel-by-panel or all at once to learn from these fascinating people and their conversations regarding innovation, entrepreneurship, and gender. 

Tags:  events  summit 

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